Can we talk? Improving Weed

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Can we talk? Improving Weed
Management Communication between
Organic Farmers and Extension


Sarah
Zwickle
, The Ohio State University


Marleen

Riemens
,
Wageningen

University and
Research Centre, the Netherlands

November 13,
2012


http://www.extension.org/organic_production

Sarah
Zwickle


The Ohio State University

Marleen

Riemens

Wageningen

University and
Research Centre

The Netherlands

Patrick
Lillard

Purdue University

Can we talk? Improving Weed
Management Communication between
Organic Farmers and Extension

Presented by:

Marleen

Riemens
,
Wageningen

University and Research Centre,
the Netherlands

and

Sarah Zwickle, the Ohio State University

Weeds mean Decisions

In a sense, farming might be called a warfare against
weeds. Some farmers emerge from the struggle victorious,
while others go down to defeat
. So powerful are weed
enemies in reducing crop yields, while at the same time
multiplying labor,

that the farmer should at every turn
strengthen his position against them.
He should bear
these invaders in mind in planning the crops he will grow
and in deciding on the fields where he will grow these
crops, in choosing the implements he will use, in buying
his seed, and in many other farm activities…
Some men do
not attack weeds with enough vigor; they look for rocking
-
chair methods of work. There is no royal road to weed
control. In the main, the old doctrine of
“hard work and
plenty of it” must be observed, but unless this work is
applied intelligently a vast amount of labor may be
expended with but little accomplished
other than a
temporary abatement of the evil
.






(Cox, 1915 USDA Farm Bulletin)



Research Questions

Collaboration and communication between land
grant universities and organic farm community
historically poor.

(
Lyson
, 2004)


Weed
management research is
extensive, and
Ecological Weed Management
(EWM) well known
in the scientific community
.

(
Liebman

and
Mohler

2001;
Gallandt

and Molloy 2008)



What are the obstacles to successful EWM
on organic farms?



Allows an individual to interpret what they see, make decisions, and solve problems.

(Kempton et al.,
Environmental Values in American Culture
, 1997; Morgan, G., B.
Fischhoff

et al.,
Risk
Communication: A Mental Models Approach
, 2002)


Internal representation
of the
external world


Helps to
explain everyday
things


Practical

Farmer Mental Model

!@#%*...

Canada thistle...

out of place…

m
ore than last year…

disc or hand pull…

Theoretical
in
nature and often research
-
based


Possibly more complex than a lay
-
person’s mental model












Expert Mental Model

Canada Thistle…

perennial…

taproot…

p
henological

traits…

TWO WAY COMMUNICATION

Starts with the intended audience’s knowledge, beliefs, and perceptions


EFFECTIVE MESSAGE

“Weeds” out what the audience already knows


INFORMATIVE NOT PRESCRIPTIVE

Uses the actual knowledge, beliefs, and perceptions of farmers to communicate
what they
need

to know (not what they
should

know) to make informed
decisions

Generating
a

Mental Model


In
-
depth interviews


Coding to find categories and concepts


Visualize codes into diagrams/tables


Hierarchical Structure



Percent
Agree

Frequency

% of Total
Mentions


Category
:

Perception of Weeds: Benefits


100%

174


12%


Concept:

Agricultural Benefits

83%

73

42%


Sub
-
concept:

Soils

62%

44

60%


Properties:

Prevent Erosion

31%

12

27%



Aerate

7%

2

5%



Cover Soil

28%

12

27%



Add Organic Matter

34%

15

34%

Expert Model

Expert Model

Expert Model

Farmer Model

Expert Model

Farmer Model

Salient concepts: Cultivation/Tillage, Cover Cropping, and Resources

Expert Model

Farmer Model

The risks agricultural and ecological risks of weed management were very similar,

b
ut farmers focus slightly more on the risks to soil health and have management,

r
ather than ecologically, based risk perceptions.

Expert Model

Farmer Model

Unique farmer concepts of note: seed bank beliefs and indicator weeds. Values also

more salient with farmers than experts.

51%

49%

33%

67%

56%

44%

32%

68%

0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
70%
80%
90%
100%
Risks of Seedbank
Risks of CWF
Benefits of Seedbank
Benefits of CWF
Researchers
Farmers
How do the two models
c
ompare?

Sharp alignment in
almost every category


E
WM knowledge concepts high among farmers (31% experts, 27% farmers)


Risks and benefits perceptions almost identical (risks of cover cropping slightly
different)



Rare
for mental models
research



Explanation: farmers
are also experts


So why is EWM not implemented successfully? Why are
weeds still such a problem?

If EWM knowledge is high, why are
farmers
still struggling?


Constraints and Complexity

!@#%*...

Canada thistle...

need to transplant peppers…

o
nly 10% of field…

not enough time to hand pull…

Decision Science Theories



Descriptive/Behavioral Model


Dual Processing
(
Damasio

1994; Epstein 1994;
Kahneman

2003)


Balance of experience/emotion and deliberation


System 1 and system 2


Rely on heuristics to
speed

complex decisions and
to
motivate

behavior


can help and/or hinder (biases)



Ranking Exercise


What are the most important considerations
when making a weed management decision?



Work fairly quickly (simulate time constraints)


16 note cards based on system 1 and system 2
processing. For example:


What worked in the past (experience)

system 1


Latest science and research



system 2


Rankings

Decision Factor





System


What worked in the past




1


Time and labor





1


Type and timing of weed




2


Soil health






1


Rankings

Decision Factor





System


What worked in the past




1


Time and labor






1


Type and timing of weed




2


Soil health






1



Public perception





1


NOP standards






2


Latest research and science




2


Extension recommendations



2

-25
-20
-15
-10
-5
0
5
10
15
20
25
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
System 1
System 2
Most Important

Least Important

System 1 Short
-
Cuts: Affect


Affective Responses


Initial response to weeds


95% negative


Lead to emotional reactions that
could enhance dread/
uncontrollability and influence risk
perceptions


If risk perception too high/low, bad


If risk perception balanced with
deliberation, good


Motivate both short and long term
choices

“We accepted
an enormous
amount of
weed pressure
on the farm
when I took it
over, and I
accepted it,
too.
But now I
realize that
this
is crazy.


System 1 Short Cuts: Satisficing


Satisficing


Based on most important
attributes of a choice


Economics


Ecology


Health


“You know
corn, soybean,
wheat is not a
good enough
rotation.
There needs to
be more than a
three way
rotation, but
you know
we’re so
starved for
money that
you feel like
you can’t do
that.


“What can
I do with
the
equipment
that I have
and the
amount of
time I
have to
best utilize
it?”

Trade
-
Offs


Trade
-
offs


How do farmers weigh their values and
their perceptions of weed management
options in their decisions?


Short term economics, long term soil health?


Clean fields or weed thresholds?


Ecological partnership or economic
maximization? (
Marleen

has a good slide on
this one)



Why aren’t you
cutting hay?” they
ask, and I had the
“lame” excuse that
the bobolinks are
nesting.

Bobolinks are
nesting!” I said.
“Well you don’t
worry about
bobolinks” they
said. “Well, yes
I do.”


Decision Tools:

Trade
-
offs Table

Attributes
Farmers Care
About

Seedbank

management

Mix of
seedbank

and
critical weed free mgt.

Critical weed free mgt.

Cost: fuel, seed,
land out of
production

Fuel: low

Seed: high

Land: 30% out of production

Fuel: medium

Seed: medium

Land: 15% out of
production

Fuel: high

Seed: low

Land: 0% out of
production

Length of
rotation

5 years

4 years

3 years

Yield loss

1
st

year: 15%

5
th

year: 0%

1
st

year: 15%

5
th

year: 0%

1
st

year: 15%

2
nd

year: 15%

Yield gain

1
st

year:
-
15%

5
th

year: +10%

1
st

year:
-
15%

5
th

year: 0%

1
st

year:
-
15%

5
th

year:
-
15%

Time and labor

1
st

year: medium

5
th

year: low

1
st

year: medium
-
high

2
nd

year: medium
-
high

1
st

year: high

2
nd

year: high

Soil health

High

Medium

Low to medium

Seed
bank

Low

Stable

High

Conclusions


Farmer knowledge is management
(experience/system 1) based


Organic farmers observe how their actions effect weed
populations. Focus less on ecology and more on
management based causes and solutions for weeds.



Farmers have strong risk perceptions in relation
to soil health





Recommendations


Emphasize benefits of weed management to soil
health


Recognize farmer’s skill in cultivation and tillage


Research Farmer Short
-
Cuts


Emphasize
seedbank

strategies (cover cropping/rotations) as
saving time and labor in the long run with data


Facilitate trade
-
offs with farmers by providing the costs and
benefits of different management practices according to
their values


Research mechanisms behind indicator weed observations


Conduct on
-
farm research that matches their way of
learning about weeds and weed mgt.(trial and
error/experience)


Thank you for listening


Sarah Zwickle


zwickle.2@osu.edu


http://ess.osu.edu/sites/drupal
-
essl.web/files/OWE_report2%20(2).pdf

Weed
management
is more than
technology:

the
importance of
the farmer

Observations in the Netherlands

About the Netherlands


Population: ~
16,7
million


Total
area for
agricultural land:
1.858.390 ha


Total area organic:
55.182 ha ~3%,
but increasing with
10%
per year



Farming systems in the Netherlands


Average size conventional farm:

26.4 ha


Average size organic farm
:


36.5 ha


Main AGF crops:


Potatoes


Carrot


Onions


Peas


Cabbage




12%

9%

64%

3%

1%

11%

AGF
cereals
grass
foddercrops
fallow
other
Typical Crop Rotation

1 out of 4
-
7,e.g.


Sugarbeet


Summerwheat


Carrot


Peas


Consumption potatoes


Grass/clover


Seed onions



Dutch organisation of
agricultural
knowledge
development and dissemination


Several institutions active:


OVO
-
model


Green education


Knowledge vouchers


Regional knowledge
centres


Regional knowledge
managers



3 general types of innovation*



Linear model, science driven:


fundamental
-
> applied
-
> adaptive research
-
>
extensions
-
> application
by farmers



Chain link model, demand
-
pulled:


Many feedback loops between innovation, testing, redesign,
distribution, production and marketing.



Participatory technology development model, farmers in control:


Adaptive oriented research, farmers in control, strong emphasis on
local knowledge







*(
Rölings

and
Seegers
, 1992)

OVO
-

model (1880
-
1990s)

(OVO meaning Research Extension and Education)


Linear model


All agricultural research carried out under the
Ministry of Agriculture:


1 university


34 research institutes


49 regional research centres (experimental farms)


Systematic research programmes


Highly successful


1950s
-
1980s: Clear goal: increase production
volumes, lower costs and improve quality

30000
40000
50000
60000
70000
80000
90000
100000
1961
1965
1969
1973
1977
1981
1985
1989
1993
1997
2001
2005
2009
wheat yield per ha

year

Global Changes, different demands


1990s:


Overproduction and environmental problems


Global demand for more liberalization and
diversity of markets. Innovation became
responsible of markets.


More diverse goals and diversification of
production systems


Participatory Technology
Development


1990s
-
today:


extension
and (part of) research privatized


shift from
linear OVO
-
model to Participatory
Technology
Development models via
the Chain
Link
model.


Research institutes serve participants in networks
of farmers, agribusiness and public sector.


Research demand
-
pulled system (demands of
both farmers as well as agribusiness and public)


Basic rules for research in demand
pulled systems*



Understand the system in which you
participate.


Be aware of your role:


problem observation and methodology
development.




* Van Dijk & Van
Boekel
, 2001

Understanding the system


Need to understand the system where we as
weed scientists are part of.


Start of explorative study in 2003 on weed
management systems.


Investigate farmer beliefs on weed
management and weed management
behavior
, identify problems they encounter
and link that to outcome of
behavior

(weed
pressure).



Explorative 3 year study on weed
management
behavior


Specific
q
uestion

Can we relate:

1)
weed
pressure
to weed management behavior,

2)
weed pressure to farmer beliefs about weeds and weed
management,

3)
weed management beliefs to weed management behavior?




Approach

16 farms in NL

Investigated:


Weed pressure (weed seed production and weed density)


Application of type of Management Strategies (EWM or CWF)


Beliefs on Weeds and Weed management

Weed pressure explained by
management
behavior


Variation
in
weed pressure was
best explained by
two
management activities:


Timing of the main soil tillage treatment
(spring or fall)


Number
of applied preventive
measures (EWM strategies)



Ploughing

in autumn prevented seed production during
winter and early spring of abundant species such as
Stellaria

media
and
Poa

annua
.


Preventive measures were activities targeting the seed
bank, e.g. stale seed bed preparations, use of
competitive cover crops.


Weed
pressure
related to farmer beliefs


Beliefs on soil structural damage


0
5
10
15
20
25
never
sometimes
often
weed density (nr/m2)

soil structure damage reason NOT to control weeds

Weed
pressure
related to farmer beliefs


Beliefs on importance of long term strategizing

(short term market oriented vs. long term rotation oriented)



Weed
management beliefs
related
to weed
management behavior


Long term oriented farmers (with lower weed pressure)
grow different crops from farmers that are more short
term market oriented.


Long term thinkers grow more competitive crops such
as
Cabbages, potatoes, cereals, grass,
legumes, with
lower yield ($).


Short term market oriented farmers grow more crops
with less competitive qualities such as flower bulbs,
onions, sunflower, pumpkin, but with higher yield ($).



Conclusion of explorative study

The incorporation of the human dimension, in terms of
farmers’ beliefs, attitudes and behavior, can lead to a
better understanding of the (organic) farming
systems and lead to more effective
communication
on weed
management in those systems.

MM Riemens et al., 2010.

Weed Science 58(4): 490
-
496

Dutch results within current project


Similar to Midwest:


Knowledge of (experience) EWM principles high


External farm constraints are a barrier


In addition to Midwest:


Farmers indicate that species specific EWM
requires more experiment based EWM knowledge
(knowledge research can not provide yet).


No or reduced till systems are a big issue: farmers
want to know whether these systems will reduce
or increase weed seed banks.


Factors taken into consideration

rank of
consideration

Overall ranking Midwest

Overall ranking NL

1

What worked in the past

Time and labor

2

Time and
labor

Crop yield

3

Type and timing of
weed*

Soil health

4

Soil health

What worked in the past

5

Crop yield

Cash flow

6

What farmers with similar crops/soils do

Environmental/ecological health

7

Markets and consumer demand

Respected farmer’s advice

8

Environmental/ecological health

Markets and consumer demand

9

Immediate
control*

What farmers with similar crops/soils do

10

Respected farmer’s advice

Family and worker health

11

Family and worker health

Extension recommendations

12

Cash flow

Latest science and research

13

Public perception

Public perception

14

NOP
standards*



15

Latest science and research



16

Extension recommendations



Focussing on maximizing short term
profit increases weed seed bank

Conclusion


Organisation of agricultural knowledge
development and dissemination is changing to a
demand
-
pulled participatory development
model.


Requires good understanding of the system


Role of research is to observe problems (identify
research objectives) and develop methodology


Mental model development can help us
understand the system and develop farmer
driven research

Discussion &
Questions

Email: Marleen.riemens@wur.nl

Find all upcoming webinars and archived
eOrganic

webinars at
http://www.extension.org/pages/25242


Find the slides as a
pdf

handout and the recording at
http://
www.extension.org/pages/65534


Additional
questions about organic farming?

http
://www.extension.org/ask


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